Codesmith offers an extensive hiring support program that guides Residents through whiteboarding, advanced technical interview practice, resume and profile development, and interview and networking strategies. Support continues upon graduation with bi-weekly check-ins and, after offers, negotiation support. Overall, 25% of graduates receive offers for Senior Engineer positions and above, and about 70% receive offers for Mid-level Engineer roles.
Recent Codesmith Reviews: Rating 4.86
Recent Codesmith News
- Increasing the Visibility of Women in Tech after Codesmith
- What is AWS? A Guide to Amazon Web Services for Beginners
- New Year, New Career? Learning to Code in 2019!
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- May 27, 2019
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- If you pass the CS Prep assessment you are guaranteed a technical interview with our full time Codesmith Program. Refunds for the course are available and distributed on a case by case basis.
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- Suitable for beginners who are ready to level up to intermediate and advanced material.
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- We recommend some familiarity with the content in the Precourse Unit on CSX - our free online learning platform - https://csx.codesmith.io/.
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More Start DatesMay 27, 2019 - OnlineApply by May 27, 2019June 24, 2019 - OnlineApply by June 24, 2019
CSX is Codesmith's free online learning platform, providing 100+ hours of curriculum and challenges, workshops and pair programming, video solutions for exercises, and an active Slack community.
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In PersonFull Time60 Hours/week12 Weeks
- Start Date
- June 3, 2019
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- Prior computer science and programming skills necessary - many applicants are self taught through our free weekly JS workshops/online prep course.
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- 4 weeks
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More Start DatesJune 3, 2019 - New York CityApply by June 3, 2019July 22, 2019 - New York CityApply by July 22, 2019September 9, 2019 - New York CityApply by September 9, 2019October 28, 2019 - New York CityApply by October 28, 2019December 16, 2019 - New York CityApply by December 16, 2019July 1, 2019 - Los AngelesApply by July 1, 2019August 19, 2019 - Los AngelesApply by August 19, 2019November 25, 2019 - Los AngelesApply by November 25, 2019
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A bit of background about me. I graduated from UCLA with an Applied Mathematics B.S degree in December 2015, had a total of 2 C++ classes and that was the extent of my software engineering experience . I found Codesmith through a friend and visited JS The Hard Parts on a few Thursdays. I immediately felt the energy that people there had, I am not sure if this is just the software engineering culture but Codesmith just had that vibe that everyone wanted to be there. I now have my first job out of college as a software engineer. I graduated from Codesmith (August 2016) and I got hired two weeks after hiring day by one of the hiring day partners.
Before I go on about my experience at Codesmith I would like to add an exception. That is, this program is only for certain people and those people are the ones who are 110% dedicated to learning, growing, and giving it their all. This is not some ‘chill’ bootcamp where you can just hangout and mess around and then expect to get a job, if you put in the effort the results will come. Now saying that, I put my life on hold for 4 months (two weeks before and after the program) and dedicated more than 80 hours some weeks to my learning and my projects. You don’t need to do that but you do need to be motivated and completely bought in to what they are teaching you because if you don’t, you won’t get all that they have to offer.
Make sure to eat a decent breakfast before you get there because once you are there the hack hours starts after the 5 minute stand up at 9am. You don’t want to skip out on any of the hack hours. I was one of few that would bring their own lunch and dinner. I used my Sundays to get laundry done, make lunch and dinner for the week, and then relax a little bit. I would make sure to have some type of caffeine right before the lectures as most of the times your lectures could fall right after lunch, aka food coma. Besides that, I had a good flow and think everyone should be able to manage their time with only the one day off, like I said before you just have to be completely focused.
As a recent UCLA grad I learned from my math professors who were the genius people wanted for their research and were not the best teachers. This is not how codesmith is. The lead instructor was a very good teacher and he is also brilliant. Make sure to utilize him and any other people there, they literally are there for you so make sure to annoy them with as many questions as possible.
Also my experience from my math classes was that everything was based on a ranking and if you did better than your classmates you received a higher grade. The one thing that was so different and amazing was that there was still the competitive nature at codesmith, you always wanted to show the best projects or get as far as you could on all of the modules. But never was there a time where anyone wished a classmate wouldn’t do as well as them, but everyone was held accountable and we all pushed each other. This was by far one the the best aspects of Codesmith.
If you don’t know already, Codesmith hosts JS The Hard Parts on Thursdays and they are also becoming one of the biggest meet ups in LA for React and Node. There is great opportunity to meet a whole slew of different people with different experiences and endless amounts of networking. Definitely take advantage of this but do not make this your priority while in the program because you should be focusing on learning and retaining everything.
I can honestly say I would not have been able to get any decent job without Codesmith’s help with my job prep. The mock interviews and resume building were the best help I have ever received in terms of job prep. The job search process is just that, a process, and they did an incredible job prepping me for that process. As long as you’re a hard working, compassionate, empathic, and personable person, you won’t have a hard time getting a job even if your experience is low, i.e. I have never had a real job before, and now I am a software engineer making 6 figures. Incredible to be able to say that and I owe it all to Codesmith.
Who are you?
I’m an EMT, Berkeley grad, and returned Peace Corps volunteer that joined the Codesmith program at the end of my 2-year service in the highlands of Guatemala.
Did it work?
I’ll be starting as a front-end web developer with a Codesmith hiring partner in Santa Barbara next week. I received two other offers some time after I accepted my current position.
There are a number of reasons, but a lot of them are already covered in previous reviews. Rather than echo, I’ll pull a Steve Jobs, get obsessive and detail-oriented, and try to cover topics that are smaller in scope but provide insight to someone who hasn’t necessarily attended the school.
There are benefits to having a CEO that is a strong and constant presence. Besides frequently handling business at the school:
Will was there to set the cultural tone of our class on day 1 -- as a cohort, we succeed together or not at all.
He gave a variety of different lectures on topics like object-oriented programming, technical blogging, and interviewing expectations throughout the weeks.
Will was with us to give a kick-off presentation for our first hackathon together.
He was there halfway through the program for one-on-one sessions.
He was there on our Hiring Day to open the floor for our thesis project presentations.
Two weeks after the program concluded, Will was there personally answering questions when the school brought our cohort in for job hunt updates.
Granted he’s not there every single day, he is available to you. Will might be encouraging a tech firm to attend hiring day or interviewing with journalists to discuss Codesmith’s philosophies, but I won’t hesitate to say that if I were to email him now as a graduate 3 months out, he would respond within a day.
CULTURE & COMMUNITY
It’s that moment when the fellows have been gone for hours. It’s 1:30 AM. You’re hammering away at a chrome extension with a partner and neither of you know how to proceed. Or maybe, you’ve invested an hour and your map method still isn’t working in Cheerio (protip: read docs and check the parameters). You know everyone’s exhausted and short on time, but you need the help, and you have to ask for it. These stressful situations are when culture really comes into play.
The community is focused on unconditional support. Expect to have it here, and expect to give it here. Let me give you a few examples.
I was working on a module with the avid surfer / Boeing engineer of our group, and we nail another exercise together. It’s looking like we might be on track to finish early. Get home. Break from the 80ish hour weeks. The first thing he asks is, “How do you feel about checking up on everyone else and seeing if they need a hand? It won’t take long.”
For a hackathon, we’re given about 6 hours (including lunch) to ad-hoc something functional. An experienced software engineer in our cohort has his eureka moment, bypasses problems with CORS and network requests with some proxy workaround, and has an hour and a half to make his project work. He then gets peppered with questions by cohort-mates. “Hey, how’d you get that proxy to work?” “Could you give me a hand with flexbox?” He carves out even more of his time to help. So much so that he presents an unfinished project (which I know for a fact he could’ve completed).
I could go on and on about the small details that made the culture so magical, but it really is a matter of seeing it in action for yourself. Visit the campus. Have a conversation with a few current students. You’ll understand.
FEEDBACK ON FEEDBACK ON FEEDBACK
If you bring up a concern, it will be considered. During the first 6 weeks, feedback is given to Victoria, director of operations. Every two days as a group, you’ll review the recently completed core modules and lectures. “Please split the testing and build tools module into two separate days.” Lo and behold, the next cohort has two days for the two modules. “Can we get more cheez-its in the kitchen?” And like magic, it appears. “Reviewing our React module with ES6 syntax when we learned with ES5 syntax? BAD.” You get the idea.
The feedback doesn’t end when sessions end either. After graduating, when I saw staff at a tech fair, I started chatting with Victoria. We were talking about the implications of increasing class sizes, and she said, “It’s great that you care. What do you think we should do?” She and her coworkers are open to criticism and change not because their job tells them it’s important for company development from 9-5. They sincerely want what’s best for students.
With all of that in mind, obviously not all suggestions will be implemented (there are still parts of the curriculum in ES5 and parts in ES6, there still might be grammatical errors in exercises, etc.), but it will be for a combination of reasons -- other low-hanging fruit to take care of, impact of changes, etc.
It’s interesting that the website doesn’t immediately mention this, but there is a support network when the program finishes.
A week after graduation, the entire cohort is brought back to campus for school updates, discussions about job-search apprehensions, and personal meetings with Hira.
There are check-in calls with Hira every two weeks after the on-campus meeting. She reaches out to track your progress, mental well-being, and again, answer any lingering questions. And the best part? She always follows through. “You’ve got an offer? I’ll get you in touch with Eric.” And the day after, I’m having a conversation with Eric. “Ah! AngelList messages can be tricky. Send over some of your examples and I’ll check them out.” A day after I send them, she replies. Here’s part of the email.
No problem Jeremy, that's what I'm here for!
Some notes on your messages:
The personal touch is great. You're really highlighting your passion for what the company is doing, I wouldn't change anything there.
Ultimately, the company wants to know what YOU can do for THEM. It's great that you have a learning mindset, and seek first to understand, but try to throw in a phrase about why you're qualified. Is there a particular stack they're working in that you're a boss at? Did you work on a technical project that is somewhat similar to what they're focused on?”
You aren’t the product of some easy-bake oven. Codesmith doesn’t “set it and forget it.” The job hunt was one of the more difficult parts of the journey, and it's genuinely nice to be able to rely on staff for solid guidance.
Bro. Now I have even more questions.
Feel free to get in touch!
I'm a recent graduate of Codesmith, became a Codesmith engineering fellow, and am now getting ready to start a full-stack position with a wonderful company. I can say without a doubt that Codesmith is a transformative experience. I have honestly never worked harder in my life and it absolutely paid off.
The program is rigorous and designed to not only teach you core concepts, but also how to learn, find an answer, and problem solve. As a result, I felt prepared to enter the job market having learned in-demand skills while also feeling confident in my ability to continue learning and adapting throughout my career.
The projects you work on and community support are what really drew me to Codesmith - and I was not disappointed. The projects you build are technically challenging and are often directly addressing an issue in the developer community. I learned so much during the project period - not only about web development but also how to approach problems, debug, and coordinate with a team of engineers.
I also became extremely close with my cohort. These students were successful prior to Codesmith while also being caring and supportive, who I genuinely enjoyed spending time with (for 14 hours/day). The staff is also approachable and truly invested in your success - going out of their way to help however they can. They offer advice without hand holding through topics - forcing you think about concepts more deeply and giving you a personal sense of accomplish it when you figure it out.
I wouldn't be where I am today without Codesmith. It was a truly incredible experience.
In addition to the instruction the job placement was such a huge help. Within a month of finishing the program I had two job offers, one of which was through Codesmith's job fair. Although coders are high in demand right now, it always takes a lot of work to get a new job, and the job support from Codesmith (interview prep, resume iteration, job fair, weekly check-ins) made the process so much less difficult.
All that being said, if you are seriously considering attending Codesmith you need to be ready to bring it. I was no stranger to hard work and long hours before I attended but those were 12 of the most challenging weeks of my life. Getting through the program, and landing a job on the other side, takes a lof of grit, determination, and most importanly you have to love to code. Attending Codesmith, and being employed as a software engineer, is really hard work. The high saleries won't be enough to get you through the day. You must also have a passion for it.
If you do have that passion Codesmith will provide everything else you need.
Codesmith is the type of program where every student leaves as a transformed version of the person he/she came in as. The most obvious transformation is one’s exponentially expanded software engineering knowledge and experience, but students also leave with a radically broader grasp on empathy, the kind of empathy you gain from intense pair programming sessions and grinding through 12+ hour days with your Cohort-mates.
Attending a coding bootcamp is a major life decision, and I have not once regretted choosing Codesmith over any of the other options in LA or elsewhere. You receive full devotion during and after graduation and I wholeheartedly believe there is nowhere better to begin the next chapter of one’s life.
Hired: Yes (In Los Angeles)
Salary: 100k+ and Equity
Graduated: June, 2016
I was hired by a company that Codesmith brought to hiring day. I make a salary equivalent to a mid-level developer in San Francisco because that's the kind of quality engineers that Codesmith makes. Prior to this I dropped out of graduate school for Landscape Architecture, and I worked in construction before that.
Codesmith teaches you the fundamentals in data structures, algorithms, and web technologies. You will learn the "whys" of how things work, which will make you a better engineer. Every day you're challenged with an algorithm(which is important because companies will test your problem solving abilities). You learn the current trending technologies that will assist you in getting a job. (I currently work with a front-end framework called React). Then you build a project that proves you are a capable engineer, and people will be like "Ooo" and "Ahhh"(that means they'yre impressed). Then they assist you in finding a job by throwing a huge party(well both an actual dinner party, but also a hirng event, which is pretty sweet). After graduation, you will have weekly meetings that checks your current progress on your hiring status.
It all sounds shiny, but it will take a lot of work to get you from an unemployable world of warcraft player into an employable professional software engineer. However it's a lot of fun, and Codesmith creates the culture and curriculum that gets you to that point. I'm glad I decided to go to Codesmith, now I can be an employed world of warcraft player(I kid, I work pretty hard at my job). On a serious note, Codesmith's curriculum and staff is top notch. I enjoyed my time there and I hope you do too.
Best of luck to anyone who's read this review, and you can do it!
I am a former student, former engineering fellow, and current employee (Software Engineer) at one of Codesmith's hiring partner companies.
The staff at Codesmith was quick to respond to inquiries and setting up appointments for both the cultural and technical interviews was a breeze. There was a good amount of emphasis placed on learning JS fundamentals on your own before applying, and as a hard worker, I appreciated knowing that I would be surrounded by other hard workers if I got into the program.
Something that really stood out to me during the application and interview process was how passionate the Codemsith community was about cultivating a positive engineering environment. I was deciding between Codesmith and another prominent bootcamp in LA that I was also accepted at, but the culture at Codesmith is really what solidfied my decision to go there.
The program seemed to be academically challenging for all students despite people's varying levels of technical experience and background. It was well-paced, and although I was constantly challenged, I never felt like I couldn't handle the amount of work, and I certainly never felt bored.
As a working software engineer now, I realize how relevant almost everything we learned in the program was. My employer seems to always be surprised by the amount I already know despite this being my first engineering job.
Also, I'd like to add that getting into the program was a competitive process, but once you're in, you really develop a strong rapport with your cohort. I still keep in touch with my cohort mates and it's inspiring to see how much we've all grown and accomplished since the program ended.
I applied and was selected to stay on as an engineering fellow after my session ended. I stayed on for an extra six weeks (though it's typically twelve) to assist with solution and approach lectures, guide students as they learn new concepts, and help debug students' code.
I was really able to solidify the material I learned as a student in the program having to explain it to new students and answer their unexpected questions during the fellowship. Being able to explain technical concepts in great depth really set me apart from other applicants when I started interviewing.
Job Placement Experience
I met my current employer at Codesmith's Hiring Day around six weeks into my fellowship. They noted that they were impressed with my communication skills and dedication to technical excellence, which wasn't surprising since both qualities are constantly emphasized at Codesmith.
Even after getting traction in the interview process with a few different companies, the Codesmith team stayed involved and were always checking in to make sure I had the support I needed to be sucessful as I was getting close to landing my first software engineering job. I couldn't appreciate them more for having helped me get to where I am now.
Before I joined Codesmith, I thought it would be near impossible to become a software engineer without a major in computer science. Codesmith not only gave me the training, but also the confidence and network that allowed me to become a working software engineer today. 10/10, would do it again.
Two things set Codesmith apart in my opinion.
1. The people: There are hundreds of coding bootcamps out there and it was difficult to figure out which one was the best for me. I visited as many as I could, and tried to figure out what was differnent about each one, and what schools existed to just take my money. I attended JS The Hard Parts at Codesmith's headquarters in LA, and was blown away by everyone's willingness to help me learn. That continued after I started as a student. Everyone at Codesmith, from the instructors, to the fellows, and even the students was willing to stay late and help me become a better developer. On top of that, the students at Codesmith are exceptionally gifted and talented people who previously have gone to the worlds best universities and have been very successful in other careers. You can't help but learn faster when you are surrounded by such talented people all day.
Within two weeks of graduation I received my first job offer, and it was higher than I expected coming into the program. Codesmith provided me with a solid computer science and coding foundation, and I have had little to no problems with technical interviews.
While the Codesmith program is still working out some kinks, it is a startup that iterates quickly and is improving across all facets. Increasingly the program is bringing in stronger students and will soon have a network of unbelievably bright developers over the next several years.
Based on my research, there is no other program in Los Angeles that compares with Codesmith in terms of having a strong focus on both academics and culture. They place a lot of emphasis on communication and pair-programming, which means you will get to know your classmates very well. From my cohort, I have made friends with a good group of people with whom I will stay connected.
Additionally, they have a great advisor, Eric Kirsten, who was very helpful in navigating the job search and assisting students with negotiations. Personally, he helped me throughout this process, and I am happy with the results. Moving forward, I am glad that I attended Codesmith, and I would strongly recommend it.
Codesmith is providing its students the highest-quality education in cutting edge technologies.
Why should you go to this bootcamp instead of another bootcamp?
1. The community: Codesmith has a strong committment to community; they host the LA React meetup that brings in developers from all over. They host Nodeschool LA where people come to learn Node.js for free. Industry professionals from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Yelp and LinkedIn come by for Q&As with students.
2. They help you get jobs: Codesmith has a robust hiring program that brings in top tech companies from LA and San Francisco; they prepare students for technical interviews, and for a career in technology
3. They teach you how to learn: a great bootcamp should arm its students with more than just knowledge of the latest frameworks because new technologies always emerge. Instead Codesmith prepares its students to learn, understand, and solve challenging techical problems.
I am a graduate of Codesmith’s 3rd cohort that ran from Oct 2015 - Jan 2016. I also worked as an engineering fellow after graduation until April 2016. As of May 2016, I’ll be employed with an e-commerce startup in Marina del Rey as a UI Engineer.
Going to a bootcamp was a huge decision for me and one that I spent a lot of time agonizing over. I knew that I wanted an advanced level program like Hack Reactor, but the catch was that I needed to stay in Los Angeles for financial and personal reasons.
When I attended my first JS The Hard Parts meetup at Codesmith, I was blown away. I had already made up my mind to attend another awesome full-time bootcamp in LA and was prepping for their interview in a couple weeks - Codesmith put a huge wrench in those plans. For one,
Will Sentance, the CTO, is an incredible teacher that makes complicated concepts accessible for people that are new to programming. Secondly, every student and person on staff that I spoke to was so down-to-earth and friendly that I immediately felt comfortable in this new environment.
Why did I choose Codesmith?
I was accepted into Codesmith and the other bootcamp in LA that I interviewed with. I received a partial scholarship to attend Codesmith, but I had already made up my mind either way.
Here were the deciding factors:
Rigorous curriculum and excellent instructors that would put me in the best possible position to get hired after graduation. I liked their emphasis on learning computer science fundamental and algorithms that not all the other programs were offering, and I knew that Will Sentance would be teaching a lot of these fundamental classes. Andy (aka the Code Whisperer) conducted a great admission interview - he challenged me to optimize my code and when I got stuck, he nudged me in the right direction. The interview itself revealed how challenging the coursework would be (a stark contrast to the other interview that I had).
Community and support - I felt like Codesmith saw potential in me that I couldn’t even see for myself at times. The staff was incredibly supportive, which revealed what I didn’t realize that I needed in a bootcamp - I wanted to learn in a caring, supportive environment. I could not imagine another bootcamp that could do this as well.
Did Codesmith meet my expectations?
Absolutely. I wanted a program that had a rigorous curriculum and I got it - more than what I could process at times (which was a good thing - though it was frustrating in the moment). The community and support that I received was amazing. I don’t know if I could’ve pushed through all the challenging times without it. When I needed someone to talk to, I could always find someone to empathize with my situation and help me move through it.
What can they improve on?
Communication and Organization - last minute schedule changes were frustrating at times. They did let us know that it was because they were constantly iterating on the program to improve our experience. From a student perspective though, it sometimes led to confusion - i.e. anticipating a lecture, but having it moved to the afternoon.
What exceeded my expectations?
How much they were paying attention to pair programming dynamics - i.e. people steamrolling or students shutting down. Unless you’ve been doing pair programming for more than 3 hours with someone, can you fully understand how important this is. When students consistently had a bad experience with someone during pair programming, they made sure to rectify the situation and help everyone grow and learn in the process. We all came out better communicators and team players because of this.
Hiring day was spectacular. I would’ve been perfectly happy with about 10 hiring partners given that our class size was on the smaller side, however, I was blown away when we had 25 companies in attendance: Whisper, Disney, Tool of NA, Black Tux… We all got in-person interviews after hiring day, which ultimately led to the full-time position that I’ll be starting soon.
Overall, it was an amazing experience. I could not have been as successful in my career transition without Codesmith. For a little taste of the culture and community, see my goodbye/thank you video to Codesmith. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy74rtmI64Q
I am a recent graduate and current fellow at Codesmith. Deciding to attend Codesmith was one of the best, if not the best, decisions of my life! I went from knowing minimal jQuery programming to truly being able to build anything I can think of (seriously). Even though they focus on Node, React, Angular, Databases, JS Fundamentals etc., what they are really teaching you are the tools needed to go and learn any technology in an extremely efficient manner. For example, my group's final production project required Three.js and WebGL, technologies not specifically taught here. Thanks to the fundamentals, tools and ideas we gained in the first 7 weeks we were able to quickly get up to speed with those technologies and create an amazing project before our cohort ended. Also, the culture at Codesmith is second to none. Everyone is focused on helping each other and growing together, part of the reason you can learn so much here in such a short amount of time. The hours are long, the concepts aren't easy and your going to challenge yourself like you never have before. However, if you stick with it you'll be awesomely rewarded with these skills. Getting through to the project period and seeing what you can actually build is an extremely rewarding experience. If you get accepted to Codesmith, I highly recommend attending. You won’t regret it!
Back in January 2015 I decided to move from NYC to LA. I was a consultant for the world's largest technology consulting firm and really wasn't feeling it. After struggling to learn Web Dev on my own for the longest time, I decided to quit my six-figure job, move across the country and enroll in Codesmith. I was part of Cohort 3 running from Oct '15 to Jan '16.
Codesmith has transformed my career path in the course of 3 months. It is truly an immersive program, dedicated to teaching fullstack web development. The program is very challenging, in terms of pace and substance, which includes teaching fundamental computer science concepts, Angular and React frameworks, using Node to implement a backend, creating and managing a database, and much more. There is also quite a bit of support for graduates which consists of additional lectures on various topics and tons of job support. Codesmith has since become a second home for me, which can be accounted for by the special culture it engulfs you into.
Originally posted on Yelp : Link
I really encourage everyone to check out Codesmith. Whether you are looking for a program to learn software engineering or you are new and want to meet people who are just starting like yourself. Check it out, it's a great environment, and it is extremely friendly and welcoming.
This review was originally posted on Yelp, available here: Anshu S.'s review of Codesmith
If I had to choose a word to describe my experience at Codesmith it would be: transformative. I first heard about the program by reading the CTO, Will Sentance's answer to a question on Quora: quora.com/Are-there-any-…
A friend of mine from high school was interning with Codesmith for the summer and posted about their weekly "Build with Code" sessions which they host in Codesmith HQ Thursdays. I had no plans that day and decided to go, if nothing else but to support a fellow Falcon. I was treated to a lecture by Will on the fundamentals of web development and walked through a tutorial on incorporating video-chat to a web app using Icecomm. At the start of the lecture, Will asked us a series of questions to gauge our level of experience. The only one I got was "Do you know what a variable is?"
That was the extent of my programming knowledge when I started the 8-week academy at Codesmith in the summer of 2015. I am a political economy major at the University of Southern California and my only experience with programming had been a 2-unit Java course that I hastily withdrew from. By the end of Codesmith, however, I had developed a full-stack application that had been a dream of mine for years: an interactive tool for USC students to plan their curriculum over four years. See: class-map.herokuapp.com I also built a snake game, an integrated calendar-chat app, and an alarm-clock that posted messages to a Slack channel via web-hooks when you pressed Snooze.
In addition, Codesmith provides access to the industry through a series of guest lectures which are open to the public. I personally saw Tom Occhino, one of the lead React engineers at Facebook, speak and they recently hosted Netflix tech lead Jafar Husain. The team behind Codesmith is committed to helping every cohort achieve their career goals.
If you are still undecided, I would recommend going to one their weekly meetups and meeting the people behind Codesmith who are all extremely talented and approachable. It's a decision you won't regret, I guarantee it.
I was part of Codesmith's 2nd cohort that went from late June to the end of September in 2015. During that time I've met, worked with, and befriended several intelligent, hardworking, awesome people. I can honestly say that, having gone here, I've changed my life for the better.
I didn't have much of a coding background at all before coming here, but after my 3+ months at Codesmith I feel confident and happy in my abilities. Before applying, be aware that this is a VERY strenuous course; you will be here 60+ hours a week for 12 weeks learning exactly what you need to learn to build a strong foundation and break into the industry.
That being said, the staff is extremely compassionate and dedicated to the success of the students. If you have the passion and work ethic to push through the challenge, Codesmith can be a very rewarding experience.
If you aren't quite sure if Codesmith, or even becoming a software engineer is for you, then I highly recommend that you check out one of the many free Meetup events that Codesmith hosts:
Beginners and experienced coders are welcome to come learn and meet with the teachers and students.
In the Los Angeles area I really can't image that there is anywhere better to learn how to code. Codesmith is devoted to providing the best possible experience and supporting the growing community.
I had just graduated from college with a B.S. in computer science when I stumbled upon Codesmith. Looking to get some web development experience, I decided to take the course and am very happy I did so.
As many people will tell you, there is a gap between industry expectations and what you learn through computer science classes and projects. This is a gap that can be largely filled by experience, and Codesmith does just that. At Codesmith, you receive a balance of computer science fundamentals and practical skills. Among other things, you will become intimately familiar with data structures, basic algorithms (sorting and path-finding) and Big O analysis. You will use what you learn in development so that you have practical skills to accompany the theory.
The web-development curriculum provides excellent exposure to full stack web development. At Codesmith you will learn many things the hard way first, for example, learning to use Node to set up servers without any frameworks before learning to use Express or Hapi. This will give you a deeper understanding of both what’s going on underneath the hood, and in the bigger picture of your application.
One of my favorite things about Codesmith is that they value holistic growth, meaning you won’t just be taught to be a developer who can create websites with ready-made tools. You will be encouraged to become an engineer, who can architect systems beyond websites, and to modify or create your own tools as you see fit. You won’t just be an engineer with team experience. You will be encouraged to lead through empathy, and follow industry workflow with version control and testing. Additionally, Codesmith holds “tutorials” where you will have moderated discussions on tech. One of my favorite discussions was on Client side vs Server side rendering. You will be encouraged to form a strong understanding of whatever technologies you’ve been exposed to so that you can communicate your thoughts coherently to laymen, as well as anyone else in the industry.
It does take commitment and hard work on your part, but if you want to be a full-stack developer and like what you have heard so far, I recommend checking out Codesmith to find out more.
I am a recent graduate of Codesmith, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. I came to Codesmith looking to make a career change, and the experience was way more than I expected.
Beyond the coding - there is an incredible community at Codesmith. Guest speakers from major companies like Facebook, Netflix, NFL.com and NPM just to name a few were great additions. Most importantly, the friends you make, and relationships you build are amazing. The engineers/instructors are genuinely invested in your development as an engineer and are always willing to go the extra mile to help you. If you want to learn something - they will help you get there!!
Learning by building is the approach at Codesmith, and it's effective. The first weeks of the program cover computer science fundamentals like algorithms, data structures, APIs, and databases, but they are taught via coding challenges and mini projects that merge theory with real world application. Some topics come more easily than others, and some days require an inhumane volume of coffee to finally debug an application, but the rate of concentrated learning is unlike anything I've ever experienced before. The remainder of the program is dedicated to working in teams on group projects. The Codesmith engineers kick off each day with hack hours as well which help you continually hone your coding chops.
The building is spacious and crackling with a palpable feeling of enthusiasm and hard work. Everyone is there to help, and you can feel it. I highly recommend the Codesmith program.
Currently, there are only a few bootcamps located in Los Angeles. I have attended meetups and online questionnaires at a few of them e.g MakerSquare, General Assembly, and Codesmith. My favorite of all is Codesmith for the following reasons...
BTW, if you don't want to read this article, you can watch a video summary below... :)
They also teach you how to think like an engineer, and give you that mindset so that you can invent and build the projects that you want to.
There are 3 key components that adhere to Codesmith. They are Community, Curriculum, and Passion. Now these aren’t necessarily mantras of Codesmith themselves, rather what I have noticed in attendance of their meetups, and this is one of the reasons that I am fascinated by being there and around that energy. Which in turn, leads me to the first component...
Talking of energy, It’s probably safe to say that it is highly unfathomable to know what it must have been like being around in the beginning of Apple, or Facebook, or any other major company that started similarly, but the feeling that I get being around Codesmith is what I would imagine that experience to be.
- The people! Everyone is so nice and welcoming. They make you really feel like you are a part of the family.
- The Environment! The building is like a spaceship. It’s really cool! When you get off of the elevator you are met by these multicolored, fluorescent lights that resemble something from the future. The whole area is one large circle with several nooks and cranny’s for you to explore. The views are also great. There are balconies with a panoramic view of water and a large portion of Silicon Beach.
This is one of the things that sets Codesmith apart from everyone else in the software education realm. Also what places them at the forefront of technology because they are using what is now on the forefront of technology. The core of their Front-End curriculum is with React.js. WHAT???
- Distributed Systems and Some Machine Learning! Seriously, it couldn’t be better. These are the things that are powering the technology around us all today, including, but not limited to Gmail, iCloud and Google knowing what you want to search before you finish typing. No one is teaching these things in any bootcamp or program currently.
Here is a photo of the curriculum for a more in depth view:
One of the most important features of Codesmith and everyone there is that they are endlessly passionate about what they are doing. It’s highly evident in everything that they do. They actually want to help everyone bring their dreams to fruition, to build the projects and companies that they envision, and change the world for the better. This fact is something that I cannot stress enough. I only mention this because I have been to some of the meetups at other places like MakerSquare and I cannot say the same things. I really can’t even say anything remotely close, and I don’t want to go into a barrage of Makersquare or anything like that. This was simply my experience and mine alone, but it was quite uncomfortable. When I walked in everyone just kind of had an attitude and they weren’t welcoming. Everything seemed fabricated. You could tell that at the end of the day this place is just a business and they seem to only care about one thing: money. That is not an environment that I welcome, nor should anyone else. With Codesmith it’s different, not just for the aforementioned reasons alone, but also I am beyond enamored with the devotion of everyone involved. It’s a really special place and I suggest that everyone experience it for themselves.
Build With Code
After the lecture, you are split up to pair program. I know you may be thinking... "I don’t want to pair program! I won't go just because of that," but It really is great! Not only can you possibly make a new friend, but you also get the chance to see how other people think, and how they arrive at a solution. That is invaluable in itself because it can help you approach a problem differently one day. When you are pair programming the EIR’s (Engineers in Residence) come in and walk around to offer their assistance to anyone if they get stuck and also to answer any other questions you may have. These guys are really great. Super friendly and helpful. Will then wraps up with a summary to help solidify all that you have learned and then you can wander around the facilities, grab some drinks and food, and hang out and talk with everyone there. If you don’t want to do any of that, you don’t have to, but I can’t recommend that you should enough.
I hope that I am able to clear a few things up for anyone, and if not you can message me or get in touch and I will gladly answer any questions about my experience. If I can’t answer those questions Joseph at Codesmith is also a really great guy and he will be glad to help you. Below are some links to where you can find information on the topics I covered here in the postings...
- Build With Code - Los Angeles
- React Native | A framework for building native apps using React
On-Time Graduation Rate
180 Day Employment Breakdown:
Notes & Caveats:
For transparency, here are the starting salary breakdowns of our graduates from 1/01/2018 - 6/30/2018:
- $110,000 - 119,999: 17.5%
- $120,000 - 129,999: 17.5%
- $130,000 - 139,999: 10%
- $140,000+ : 2.5%
Our latest on Codesmith
Alex was interested in coding throughout college but initially dismissed it, thinking that coding just wasn’t for her. But seeing the potential of technology while working for nonprofits, she decided to revisit software engineering, and loved it. Alex won the Edie Windsor Lesbians Who Tech Scholarship to attend Codesmith coding bootcamp in New York City, and now works on a team that values diversity. Alex tells us about her experience learning in Codesmith’s supportive environment, how she landed her new role as a Software Engineer, and why she’s happy to be increasing the visibility of women in tech.
Tell me about your career and education background – how did your path lead you to Codesmith?
My interest in engineering started when I was an undergrad studying Linguistics and International Studies. As part of my linguistics major, I worked on a project which involved building a website to document indigenous languages in the Oaxacan region of Mexico. That's where I learned that technology can be used in all these interesting ways, and there are all these interesting problems to solve.
After college, I had a hodgepodge of jobs, including jobs at nonprofits. In every job I had, I found ways to do engineering challenges, whether it be building small scripts and applications for a startup, or working with different content management systems.
I moved to New York and was feeling unfulfilled in my career, so I really decided to focus on software engineering. I was mostly self-taught at that point – I had only taken a couple of computer science classes in undergraduate, so I started teaching myself via online courses. I was just having so much fun with it.
How did you decide to go to Codesmith?
I started going to the workshops every week, and then I decided to apply to Codesmith’s immersive program and spend three months of my life devoted to learning. It ended up being one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Did you consider other options like other bootcamps, or going back to college?
I did, actually. I considered going back to college for a Master’s in Computational Linguistics. I also considered and tried some of the online learning platforms. But in terms of the learning environment that I wanted to be in, I know I learn better with people in a classroom or group environment, as opposed to learning online on the side with other jobs, or in the evenings. So I knew I wanted an immersive experience.
I did a paid, week-long prep course at one of the other bootcamps in New York. I liked it and doing that helped me decide that this path was right for me, instead of getting a Masters which is really expensive. Bootcamp programs aren't cheap, but compared to a two-year program, the bang for your buck in three months versus two years is pretty amazing.
When I went to Codesmith’s free workshops, I found the level of instruction was equal, if not at a higher level than the course I paid for. And so, I thought, "This is a no brainer, I'm definitely going to Codesmith." Also, I met such wonderful people at the meetups, and I was really impressed by Codesmith staff. It just felt right.
When you decided to go to Codesmith's bootcamp, what was your goal? Did you have a specific role or job or company in mind?
During the program, I was drawn to back end development. I'm not a very visual design-oriented person. I don't want to decide what a website should look like – I want to build it. Maybe I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gone to Codesmith. Getting the chance to try out different parts of programming was really helpful for someone like me who was new to the professional side of the industry.
Congratulations on landing the Edie Windsor scholarship! Can you tell me about what the process was like to apply for that?
The Edie Windsor scholarship is a scholarship given by the Lesbians Who Tech organization, an organization which helps LGBT people, women, and underrepresented voices get into tech. They offer a really amazing scholarship which covers 50% off bootcamp tuition. For the application, I wrote two 500-word essays, then they sent me an email to say I was a finalist. The final email said, "Congrats, we've chosen you." So the process was really simple.
The scholarship is only one part of the work that Lesbians Who Tech does. They paid for my registration for the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco, which was really exciting. I'd been to tech meetups, but it was my first full-blown tech conference and it was amazing. They do such incredible things for LGBT people and for women in tech. It's an awesome organization, and I feel incredibly grateful to not only have received the scholarship but also to be in this community of people. They have a Slack group, volunteer events – it's an incredibly impressive organization that I feel really grateful to have stumbled into.
Can you tell me about the Codesmith application and interview process?
It was not easy. It was definitely a little nerve-wracking. But the staff, the instructors, and Will Sentance, the CEO, were always incredibly supportive. That's a theme of Codesmith; everyone's incredibly supportive and is really rooting for you. It feels like a really positive space and energy.
I actually didn't pass my first technical interview. I was incredibly nervous because I hadn't taken a test since I was in college. I was being evaluated and it was really nerve-wracking, so I think I froze. They gave me feedback and let me come back for another interview a week later and I did a bit better. By that time, it felt more comfortable, and luckily they let me in! I got a call from the CEO, Will, who's a fantastic guy. He said I was ready to start in the April cohort, but I actually deferred to the June cohort, because I was so overwhelmed, and felt I needed to practice more. It was a good experience all around. Nerve-wracking, but ended up being good.
What was your Codesmith cohort like? How many people were there, and was it diverse in terms of gender, and race, age, and backgrounds?
It was definitely really diverse in a lot of different ways. There were 12 of us in my cohort. Four of us were women, which was great. It could have been better, but in the tech world, we take what we can get at the moment!
In terms of experience, there were some people who had been to a bootcamp previously, who decided to come to Codesmith because it was like the next level up. There were people who had never worked in the engineering industry, people who had worked in design or done some programming, people who had been going to hackathons for years, and others like me who had tinkered but never dived super deep into things. It was a great mix of people, which was really helpful because we were able to draw on each other's experiences. I met some of my best friends there!
How does that compare to the diversity at your job today?
I'm really lucky to work at a company that is trying to close the gender gap in their engineering team. The engineering team is about 30 people. Inside of that team, I’m in a group of four developers, two designers, a product owner, and a scrum master. I'm the only woman developer in my group, but we have at least 10 women developers in the whole team. But I can see the difference at this company, compared to places I interviewed where I would have been either the only woman engineer. So I feel really lucky to work for a company that is really committed to having an inclusive and diverse workspace.
Can you tell me about the learning experience at Codesmith?
There's a Junior Phase and a Senior Phase. During a typical day during your Junior Phase, you start with a daily warm-up exercise. Each learning module was organized in two-day sprints. So during the first day of a learning module, you have an intro lecture about a topic such as Node, React, or data structures. Then a big chunk of the day would be spent working on a problem set. On the second day of the module, you go over the answers to the problem sets with an instructor. Everything you do in your junior phase is with a pair programming partner, which I think is an awesome hallmark of Codesmith. It shows how much they invest in technical communication, to make sure that you're not just understanding the concepts, but you're also understanding them well enough to explain them to someone else.
The Senior Phase is the project portion when you build a developer tool. You're taking what you learned in your junior phase, and applying it to something that you think will be helpful to the developer community. People in my cohort built things like a Lambda orchestrator, a dev tool to help with GraphQL. I built an AWS metric visualizer, which was really cool.
How did Codesmith prepare you for the job hunt? What sort of career guidance did they give you?
The second part of the Senior Phase is the hiring phase. You work on your resume and do practice interviews. It's a whole other skill to learn and it's nerve-wracking, but definitely fun. You're working with people collaboratively, practicing out loud, doing mock interviews with your cohort-mates and alums. Then there's a hiring day where Codesmith brings in companies that really want to hire people. It's almost like speed dating. About 10 or 12 companies came to our hiring day, and we got to choose who we wanted to talk to. Then if they're interested, we could continue in their interview process. It's an amazing way to start to understand what kind of jobs are available and what people are looking for.
Can you tell me about your post-Codesmith experience and how you landed your current job?
I really hit the ground running after I graduated in September 2018. I spent about two and a half months applying for jobs nonstop. It was putting in the time and effort to follow up with the employers that I met on hiring day, reaching out to companies I was interested in, digging into my network, seeing who I could talk to, and going to networking events. My whole process lasted about two and a half months, where pretty much 9am to 5pm I was applying and interviewing.
What were your job interviews like? How did you do in the code challenges?
The interview process generally was a phone screen then a coding challenge with one of the company’s engineers. Then, depending on the company, there might be another coding challenge, or an onsite interview, where you would do a coding challenge, a culture interview, and meet different people who would be on your team.
It was a pretty grueling process. But I found it a lot of fun because I was also still trying to figure out what position would fit me best. So I really felt like I was interviewing them as much as they are interviewing me – and got to treat it as a fun conversation. My process with the company that I'm currently with included a phone screen, a technical interview, and an on-site interview. Then luckily, I was offered a job!
Congratulations! Can you tell me about your role and the projects you're working on?
My parents have no idea what I do, but I can tell them, "Go to that website, and click that button – I did that!" So that's kind of the fun side of web development. But then I'm also working with database queries, and different server-side problems, which has been really fun.
What’s been your biggest challenge or roadblock in your career change?
All things considered, things are going very well. But I think I do struggle with imposter syndrome. It's not that I didn't like math or consider myself interested in science or STEM topics in college. I put coding to the side as something that just wasn't for me a little too early on. Then I started to realize that coding is more about problem solving, finding patterns, and learning a new language. I wish that had stuck with me a little earlier. I'm glad I eventually got there. But I think the challenge has been my own confidence in myself, and thinking that "This stuff isn't for me, I haven't been doing this since I was 10 years old." And that's just not true.
While I'm definitely confident in my abilities, sometimes it can be really intimidating when an experienced colleague gets his tickets done much faster than I do, because he knows the code base better. There are days where I get frustrated with myself or frustrated that it's taking me longer to work out a problem. At the same time, I feel I'm able to hold my own in terms of learning new things. Luckily, I'm in a workspace where questions and collaboration are really encouraged. So I don't think I've ever felt like I couldn't ask someone if I get stuck. One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with my coworkers. This is an industry and a job where I'm constantly learning something new every day.
What is it like being a woman in tech now that you've graduated?
I'm still learning what it means to be a woman in tech. Again, I'm really lucky that the company I work for is cognizant and intentional about hiring women and diverse candidates. But it's always in the back of my mind, “Am I not speaking up because men are talking too much? Am I not speaking up because I need to learn a bit more?” I’m always thinking about the different power structures in the room and what effect that is having on me. I've made a conscious effort to speak at least once in every meeting to practice, so when I have something really important to say, I'll be used to speaking up.
Also, I'm part of a Women in Tech group at my company. It's about creating community, supporting people, and being visible. I'm really inspired, not only by some of the women in my company who've been there for a little bit longer, but also by the tech community in general. I'm always really excited when I see a woman speaking at an event. Visibility and representation are really important in all aspects for inclusion and diversity in tech.
Have your background and your college degree been useful in becoming a software developer?
The more relevant degree to coding is linguistics. Often when I say I studied linguistics, people will say, "Oh, that makes sense that you're a software engineer now,” because linguistics is focused on syntax, breaking down language into its smallest parts, and seeing how it fits together. And that's a lot of what coding is – logic, syntax, and how things fit together. So it makes sense that I found my way here because I enjoyed looking at and learning new languages.
But also, in the work that I did in the nonprofit world and the startup world, I learned how important communication is and how important it is to see the big picture. I'm really grateful for those experiences because that was where I learned how to work on a team, and communicate problems to people who might not be technical. I feel really grateful for having that experience, even if it wasn't directly engineering work.
Have you stayed involved with Codesmith?
Unfortunately, my job took me to a different city. I don't live in New York anymore, which is a bummer because I really miss all my friends from Codesmith in New York! But we do have group chats and there is an active alumni Slack channel – there’s a vast alumni network.
Anytime there's a call for grads to do mock interviews with current students, I like to do that because I remember how fun it was to talk to grads who returned to Codesmith. Anytime anyone is interested in talking to someone with a background like me, or interested in the Lesbians Who Tech scholarship, I'm happy to talk to people. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the Codesmith community and know that there are smart, exciting, amazing people who are willing to help me and I'm willing to help them.
What advice do you have for other people, especially women, who are thinking about making a career change through a bootcamp like Codesmith?
You can do it. If you're waiting for someone to give you permission, here it is. Do it. It's hard to over exaggerate how much Codesmith changed my life. I never thought I'd be making as much money as I'm making now. I just never thought of myself as an engineer, even if I was doing things that were related. I met amazing people. It was really hard, it was really challenging, but it is the best thing that's ever happened to me. So if you want to do it, do it.
In today’s world, understanding the ecosystem beyond coding can be the difference between a junior and a senior software engineer. One part of that ecosystem is cloud computing infrastructure like Amazon Web Services (AWS). Schno Mozingo, Head of Curriculum at Codesmith, walks us through the basics of AWS, how companies and developers are using it, and why understanding AWS can help bootcampers land higher-level engineering positions. Listen to the podcast or read the article!Continue Reading →
Is learning to code on your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions List? It should be! The average coding bootcamp graduate gets a job in tech and sees a 49% salary lift. A coding bootcamp could be just what you need to make a fresh start in 2019 as a developer, so we’ve compiled a list of 18 full-time, part-time, in-person and online coding bootcamps which have upcoming cohorts starting in January and February 2019. Most of these coding courses have approaching application deadlines, so submit yours quickly if you want to get a head start in 2019!Continue Reading →
In the last week at Codesmith, students take part in Hiring Day, where employers visit the campus looking to hire new software engineers. Students interview with employers and show off their final projects. We visited Codesmith’s New York City campus and spoke to one student about his experience at Codesmith, what he built after 12 weeks, and how his ambitions have changed after Codesmith! Find out if Codesmith was worth it for Reynolds Colon.Continue Reading →
So you’re thinking about applying to a coding bootcamp. What should you expect in the application and interview process? And how do you ensure you get accepted to your dream coding bootcamp? We invited representatives from 7 coding bootcamps to ask all the tough questions about getting into coding school. In this live panel discussion, hear tips and advice about coding challenges, prep programs and more from Flatiron School, New York Code + Design Academy, Fullstack Academy, the Grace Hopper Program, Hack Reactor, Galvanize, and Codesmith! Watch the video, listen to the podcast, read the summary or transcript.Continue Reading →
Am I ready to apply to Codesmith? Do I need to have programming experience? What happens if I fail the technical interview? How do I improve my “technical communication?” Will Adamowicz just graduated from Codesmith’s 12-week Academy and spills the details about the application process (he’s now a Codesmith Fellow, so he knows the ins and outs). From basic steps to interview questions to preparation tips, Will answers all of your questions!
What are the steps of the Codesmith Application?
- Fill out an online application or attend a workshop at Codesmith to get a challenge code. That code sends you to a special application that guarantees you an interview.
- Attend a non-technical interview (can be done in person or over video call)
- Attend a technical interview (can be done in person of over video call)
How long does the Codesmith application process typically take? How long did it take you?
From the moment you apply to the moment you complete your non-technical and technical interviews can be as short as a one week. This is rare, though. Most students will plan several weeks – if not months – ahead to apply. In my case, I had a particular start date in mind and planned about two months ahead of that start date.
Codesmith accepts students on a rolling basis, though the process tends to depend on how much demand there is for a particular cohort. You’re definitely welcome to apply to a cohort several months in advance and you can also defer an acceptance up to three months.
What goes into the written application? Does Codesmith require a video submission?
The written application is fairly straightforward, just logistical info, a few essays about your background and passion for technology, and an optional coding challenge. There is no video submission required.
Can you give us a sample question from the non-technical interview?
One of the questions in my non-technical interview was: “What are your long term goals in software engineering? What do you want to do with it down the line?”
Is Codesmith looking for a specific technical background? What types of backgrounds have successful Codesmith students had?
About 50% of students at Codesmith come from engineering backgrounds and 50% come from non-technical backgrounds. Codesmith doesn’t look for any particular kind of background. I’ve seen everything from actors, school teachers, grad students, hotel managers, EMTs, and the list goes on. Having a technical background can help, of course, but there are so many factors that go into being a good engineer that it is not really a significant indicator of how successful you’ll be.
I had no coding background but studied logic and mathematics which definitely helped me in the admission process. Since I didn’t know anything about programming, I prepared for about three months before applying to Codesmith, doing three to four hours of study every single day. I had just come out of grad school writing long papers about analytic philosophy so I got accustomed to working alone and staying disciplined, but if this were a few years earlier I would have definitely signed myself up for a prep course to have some kind of accountability while studying.
Does every applicant get a Technical Interview?
Some candidates may not be a good fit for the program – in that case, they won’t get a technical interview. As a Codesmith Fellow, I interview candidates, and we generally look for excellent communicators who are also driven and passionate about wanting to become software engineers. We also want to accept team players. You’ll end up working very closely with a small team, so being able to work well with others is one of the biggest indicators of whether you’ll be a good candidate for Codesmith.
What can an applicant expect from the technical interview? Is there a coding challenge?
The technical interview involves answering a series of increasingly harder coding challenges. There is an endless list of challenges, so the goal is not to simply race through and try to get to the (imaginary) end. Much more important are things like technical communication and how you approach a problem that you don’t know how to do.
The engineer conducting the interview will stop after one hour and then send their notes off to the admissions team.
Can you give us a sample question from that technical interview?
Can I apply more than once if I fail the technical interview?
I think the current Codesmith acceptance is about 5% – I rarely see someone pass the technical interview on the first try. You can do the technical interview up to three times (if you fail the first and second). If you don’t pass, then the admissions team will give you feedback and resources to help get you up to speed. They’ll recommend a number of weeks for you to prepare until your next interview but you’re welcome to reinterview whenever you’re ready.
Most people fail the first interview, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t pass. Many people who fail their technical interview have even gone on to become Codesmith Fellows. More commonly than not, you’ll need to work on technical communication, so pair programming is one of the best ways to learn to talk through your ideas as you code them.
How do I get better at “technical communication?”
One thing that worked really well for me was recording myself doing algorithms and rewatching my problem solving. It was definitely painful at first but it helped me learn how to discuss a higher level strategy and talk about my implementation while going through a problem, which is an entirely separate skillset from the analytical thinking involved in solving a problem.
What resources do you suggest applicants use to really ace the technical interview?
The CSX platform (Codesmith’s online learning platform with instructional videos and coding challenges) is very good for preparing you to get in. Go to the Hard Parts weekly workshops or attend online – that’s one of the best ways to start working on technical communication. There is also a paid two week part-time online course called CS Prep that focuses on everything tested on the Codesmith technical interview and other qualities the admissions team looks for.
I would also recommend using websites like FreeCodeCamp or Codecademy to get the basics down, and to practice algorithms on coding challenge websites (Codewars, Leetcode, HackerRank). I’m also a big fan of this website, ReactiveX, for getting more accustomed to using higher order functions. It’s just a single tutorial but I found it very helpful in preparing me for the interview.
When do you think a Bootcamp Prep program is worth it?
Getting experience with pair programming is super helpful, so I would definitely recommend going to a prep program like Hard Parts or CS Prep if you think you’d have trouble sticking to a daily routine and want a little more guidance on the kinds of materials to study.
I was working in a kitchen in Kyoto in Japan when I started studying to get into Codesmith and soon realized I couldn’t get any productive work done after my shift, so I was getting up at 4:30am every day and practicing algorithms for a few hours every morning. I actually got my first opportunity to pair program by attending Hard Parts online and ended up being roommates during the program with my first pair programming partner. He was in China at the time while I was in Japan and next thing you know we were both in Venice, Los Angeles in the same cohort.
As a Codesmith Fellow, do you take part in the interviews? How do you evaluate an applicant’s future potential? What qualities are you looking for?
Does Codesmith accept international students? Do international students get student visas/tourist visas to do the program?
Yes, there have been several international students who have gone through the program with tourist/student visas.
Even after Brittany Miltenberger earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and worked professionally in software (QA, Release Engineering, and Front End Web Development), she felt she needed to go to coding bootcamp to learn more advanced, full-stack web development skills and technologies. She chose Codesmith in Los Angeles, because she thought it would be a challenge and enrolled in the two-week Live Online CS Prep course to prepare for the technical interview. Find out how Brittany enjoyed learning remotely with others before she moved to LA, how difficult the Codesmith technical interview was, and her plans for the future!
Walk us through your career and education background. What did you do before Codesmith?
I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. My interest in coding actually stemmed from my original major – music and audio production. Recording music with computers piqued my interest in software and UI/UX design. I found that I enjoyed deconstructing and building the software more than recording the music, so I switched my major to computer science.
After college, I became a Quality Assurance Engineer for a music production software company in Boston. It was a perfect fit and I was so fortunate. I was so thrilled to blend my interests in music and software. As a QA Engineer I was primarily conducting test scripts, then I got promoted to a Builds Release Engineer, a more technical role maintaining automated software builds, scripts, and creating installers.
Recently, I've been working professionally in front end and interactive web development. Over the past four years, I've built software for many aspects of learning – creating, developing, designing eLearning courses.
You had those technical skills and a computer science degree –why go to a coding bootcamp?
What made you choose Codesmith over other coding bootcamps?
I began by searching on Google, and comparing and contrasting different programs. I came across Course Report and read different reviews. Codesmith had stellar reviews; in particular, I liked that Codesmith prepared students for mid-to-senior level programming careers, which was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to enroll in a program that would be challenging for me, where I would learn a lot.
In my last job as a Front End Web Developer, I worked remotely, so I wanted to do something in-person with other classmates. The two-week CS Prep program was remote and was excellent, but for the actual bootcamp, I wanted to do something in-person (Codesmith is 12-weeks, in-person). I live in Washington, DC now, but the Codesmith classroom is in New York and Los Angeles, but I was really eager to pursue Codesmith and relocate. I chose Los Angeles because I lived there a few years back, and it’s a great tech hub, especially in the Venice area and Silicon Beach.
Why did you decide to do Codesmith’s CS Prep program before applying for the 12-week coding bootcamp?
I enrolled in CS Prep to prepare for the Codesmith technical interview and to boost my confidence. I was so set on going to Codesmith, but since I wasn't in LA, I figured that enrolling in a prep course like CS Prep would be a great introduction – I could meet some of the fellows at Codesmith and other applicants. I was 99.9% sure I was going to enroll in the full program and CS Prep helped me confirm that.
I attended CS Prep from April 16th to 29th from DC, then interviewed for the full-time program in May. I flew to Los Angeles to do my interview and I got accepted. I start the full-time academy in LA on July 23rd. Right now, I’m starting a lot of pre-work and I'm so excited!
How was the application and interview process for the Codesmith CS Prep?
CS Prep does have a selective admissions process. At first, I thought, "am I even going to get in?" But actually, I found it to be a wonderful interview process. It was pretty stress-free. There were two parts to the application process. First I participated in a non-technical interview, to discuss my coding background and software engineering goals.
After that, I had the option of submitting short essays about my coding ambitions or completing a coding challenge. I chose the coding challenge. I’d been working through a lot of Codesmith's free online resources and I figured the challenge would be a good indicator of my readiness.
How did you feel about the prep course remote learning experience?
I did the live online CS Prep course alongside a group of other students. It was really cool because we used the video conferencing software Zoom, so for each class I could sign on and say hello to everyone – it was like I was in an actual classroom, but virtual. It wasn't a passive lecture learning experience – everyone could see each other and talk to each other so it was interactive. I always had to make sure I was listening and staying on track because, like in a classroom, I could get called on to answer questions. I found the whole experience to be so immersive. It was really like we were all there in person – it was awesome.
How many instructors helped you during the Codesmith CS Prep program?
We had four different instructors over two weeks, which was really cool. Some of them were Codesmith Fellows and had been through the program, so they could give us great guidance. It was nice to have a variety of instructors because everyone has different teaching styles. It kept the learning fresh and made it a rich learning experience.
Did the prep course teaching style match your learning style? What did a typical day look like?
It definitely did. Each of the instructors taught differently, but each was really excellent. I got so much out of each class. The overall class structure was very consistent, so that helped. We would start each class with a 30-minute coding challenge. It was a great way to warm up and get our gears rolling. Then we would go into a lecture on a new topic where the instructor would share a PDF and go through slides.
Another really cool aspect, and excellent virtual learning tool, was that we used iPads as whiteboards. In a lot of coding classes in real life, you'll have a whiteboard where the teacher writes some code on the board, and you walk through it together. But during our class, they would switch to the iPad view, and they draw with the stylus and walk through the code that way.
How difficult was the CS Prep Program?
It was honestly right in the middle of my expectations. It definitely wasn't easy. I put in several hours each day before class to review material. Although that wasn't required, I did it to keep on track. But at the same time, it wasn't crazy difficult, I wasn't beyond stressed and staying up all night studying. I felt like it was a really good middle ground.
I consciously resigned from my job, so I had the luxury of having time to study. But several students in the class were working nine to five jobs. If you are working nine to five, they have evening and weekend classes as well – so there's definitely a balance. You could go to a job all day and then go to CS prep, and I don't think it would be too overwhelming.
Can you tell me about the project that you built during the prep program?
The game’s source code is currently stored on our REPL account, but my team members and I are creating a shared GitHub account so we can actually publish it and share it.
Did you feel ready to apply to the full-time program at the end of CS Prep?
After the CS Prep program, my confidence level was boosted. Learning remotely can be intimidating because you may miss that sense of community. But one of the reasons I felt so prepared for the technical interview was because of the other students in CS Prep. We did so much pair programming, and that experience helped me with my technical communication. It's one thing to be able to code something yourself, but to be able to explain it and talk someone through it is of equal or greater importance. That was a big takeaway.
After you finished CS Prep, what was the admissions process like for Codesmith’s 12-week coding bootcamp?
It was a two-part process. The first part was a non-technical interview to assess my background and goals and to see if I was a good culture fit. It was definitely a longer interview and more in-depth than the CS Prep interview. We talked more about coding, my experience, and pair programming.
Part one wasn't stressful, but the second part was a technical interview, and I was definitely nervous. I did not need to fly to Los Angeles for that interview, but I wanted to check out the Codesmith headquarters in LA, and I felt that I may perform better in-person.
I coded each day for several weeks before the technical interview to make sure I was ready. That interview was challenging, and at some point, I hit a wall where I didn't know the answer. I had to take a deep breath, use technical communication (which I learned in CS Prep) and break down that problem, piece by piece. I had to show my knowledge, even if I didn't perfectly answer the question. Even though interviews can be stressful, Codesmith is really welcoming so I still found it to be a positive experience.
Could you have gotten into Codesmith without doing the CS Prep course?
I think I could have been accepted, but I would not have been as prepared for the technical interview. I would’ve been way more nervous. My experience with technical communication and pair programming at CS Prep built a really good foundation for a technical interview because I hadn't done a technical interview for a job in several years. CS Prep got me motivated and improved my confidence.
What are your plans after you graduate from Codesmith?
My familiarity and interests still lie within front end web development and design. But that could change as I work through the Codesmith curriculum. I'm really eager to learn more about full stack development, which is something I’ve never done professionally. For now, I just want a challenging job in a mid-to-senior level position.
I've worked for startups as well as huge corporations. I really dig the startup vibe and I’d like a job where my work has a direct impact. I'm trying to keep my options open when it comes to the industry I’d like to work in. I still have interests in music so it would be cool to combine art and code together again. I'm also aiming to work LA.
Do you keep in touch with anybody from the prep program? Is anyone going to the full-time program with you?
I've definitely kept in touch with several students from CS Prep. Some are interviewing and some have been accepted, which is awesome. Once CS Prep completed, we still did study groups a few times a week, and that was so valuable. Fortunately, we kept in touch.
When I went to LA a few weeks back, I met up with some of my prep cohort in person, so that was really nice. A huge part of the value I found in CS Prep was networking with other students who were applying, so I didn't feel so alone in the process.
What advice do you have for people thinking about attending a coding bootcamp? Do you recommend attending a coding bootcamp prep course?
I had a technical background before Codesmith, but for those who don't and are curious, I highly recommend a coding bootcamp. I was amazed with the other students – when I was pair programming and chatting with them about their lives and backgrounds, students who I thought had been coding for years, had just picked it up a few months ago. They learned fast! Computer science and programming can sound intimidating, but I've seen students excel so quickly. So if you are motivated, organized, and ambitious, it's totally doable.
Also, for those new to coding, it might be difficult to know what area of coding you want to go into because there are so many different sectors – back end, front end, full stack, etc. But there's a wealth of online resources for tutorials, so see what areas pique your interest. If you're still not sure, enroll in a bootcamp that can teach you various technical skills so you can figure it out.
In terms of Codesmith’s CS Prep, I highly recommend it. It was such a fantastic way to be welcomed into the Codesmith community. And there’s a great incentive where students who complete CS Prep get the tuition cost credited towards the full-time Codesmith tuition.
The Codesmith team understands that the best way for people to learn is alongside a community. So when they launched Codesmith CSX, a free online learning platform to prepare people for coding bootcamps, user interaction was front and center. Codesmith Senior Product Manager Haley Godtfredsen tells us all about the CSX curriculum, how to navigate the online platform, how users can take part in weekly pair programming sessions, and she gives us a demo of a CSX coding challenge!
What's your background and your role at Codesmith?
I'm a Senior Product Manager at Codesmith and I’m taking the lead on our new product – the CSX online learning platform. I've also been a Codesmith coach for about two years.
Can you tell us exactly what CSX is and why you are working on it?
Is CSX just for students thinking about applying to Codesmith or can anyone do it?
How long does it take to graduate from the CSX program?
It's different depending on what background you're coming in with, and how much time per week you're going to be putting toward learning. It's a completely free online program, and people can take it at their own pace. For someone who is less experienced, it could take them up to 60 hours. For someone who is more experienced, it would take less time than that.
Can you give me an overview of the CSX curriculum?
For those students taking the free version of CSX, do they work with instructors or is it mainly solo learning?
We really wanted to bring a community to the online space with CSX. Our weekly in-person workshops are focused on community. We make sure everyone feels comfortable and able to really put their best foot forward with learning because they're not worried about being competitive or asking a silly question.
All of our CSX videos are taught by our CEO Will Sentance, who is one of the top Front End Masters instructors. If you have questions while you're going through the free program, we have weekly half-hour office hours to ask a mentor or the CSX staff questions about the program itself or about a specific challenge.
If you have any questions, you can just shoot that into the general Slack channel and one of the mentors usually answers within a couple of hours. Other students also answer questions and help each other out on Slack, which is really exciting to see.
In addition to prepping for the Codesmith application process, what is the overall goal of CSX? What will students be able to build or do when they finish?
CSX is structured around a core Codesmith value: teaching students how to teach themselves. In this world of technology, things are always changing. The next thing is always right around the corner, and it doesn't help to get yourself in a very small hole by just being an expert in one technology. You need to know how to learn new technologies and new concepts. And that's what we want to bring to CSX as well.
There’s a lot more to being a software engineer than just understanding the technology. We also focus on technical communication and problem-solving, student pair program on a weekly basis to interact with other programmers and work on those skills. One way to understand a concept is by explaining that concept to someone else. We expect students to come out of CSX with a refined ability to tackle any type of problem, whether they've seen that problem before on CSX or not.
It’s cool that CSX students actually build a real project.
Yeah. We also award scholarship opportunities based on submissions of that Chrome Extension project. Recently, students had two weeks to build a Chrome Extension and our team awarded a 25% scholarship to Codesmith to the winner.
Okay, Haley – share your screen and show us what CSX looks like!
The CSX layout:
- Every unit is represented as a card on the main page.
- You’ll get an overview of which units are available, then pick and choose where to dive in.
- It's not necessarily a chronological course. If you have an understanding of one concept and you want to dive into another one, that's totally fine.
- You can watch our newly-released, professionally-shot video content and view the slides.
- Students are able to test their work from console logs. In the future, Codesmith will implement unit testing, so that students know immediately if their entries are correct.
Where should users start?
- The Overview of CSX is a great place to start out.
- The Codesmith technical interview tests certain core fundamentals – you can learn about those in sections 1 through 4 (up to the Recursion unit).
- If you’re prepping for other coding bootcamps, focus on Units 1 through 3.
- Depending on what you're using CSX for, you can pick and choose which units to attack or which concepts you really want to understand better. Once you're familiar with a concept, you can move on.
- Codesmith has plans for more content and will be releasing more features.
Watch the video to see Haley walk through the CSX unit about Variables.
It's awesome for people to be able to connect and work through problems with people around the world. Online learning can often be very solitary and it's hard to keep motivated when it's just you in your room alone. We do a lot of pair programming in our full program and in our in-person events, so we wanted to bring that to the online space.
How can students pair program on CSX?
- First you need to sign up and verify your email address. Then you can RSVP to a weekly pair programming workshop.
- You’ll rate your comfortability with the concept that will be covered in the workshop
- You’ll get a link to the challenge for that week's pair programming session. The email includes some instructions and best practices for pair programming. You’ll both go into the session knowing who the “driver” is and who the “navigator” is.
- During the pair programming session, you can use video + audio to talk to your partner.
What are “navigators” and “drivers” in pair programming?
- The navigator does the problem solving, working through how to get to the solution, and using their technical communication to relay that information to the Driver. In a navigator position, technical communication is very important. You need to know where you want to go with the problem so you can explain the steps to get there.
- It’s up to the pair to decide who wants to be the driver and who is the navigator.
- We encourage students to switch roles every 20 minutes, or every challenge so they can both get experience using the different skills that come from each position.
How is CSX different from other free online resources like Codecademy?
I'm a huge fan of Codecademy, but what we wanted to bring to our CSX is really hard learning. Hard learning isn't done best by yourself. It's easy to stop, hit a block, and not want to continue. We wanted to supplement that with live workshops that complement each unit that we have filmed live, as well as videos on CSX, weekly pair programming, and weekly office hours to give people that actual push.
If you have questions and you're struggling, you have other people to work with and you have mentors to ask questions. We think that you learn from hitting a block and working through it, as opposed to being walked through a programming tutorial like Codecademy.
How often do students actually get accepted into Codesmith (or other coding bootcamps) after going through CSX.
Since CSX is relatively new, we don't have any hard data on this. We have a lot of students in our most recent cohort who have been using it. And talking to them, it sounds like it was really helpful. I do think that it's helping our students start off on the right foot.
How else can students prepare for Codesmith?
We're releasing two new programs in March that are more structured, paid versions of CSX. The Live Online program is two weeks long, and is a version of the free program condensed into a two-week program, with three weeknights and one weekend day per week, with live instructors and office hours, and a focus on problem solving and technical communication.
Then we have a self-directed four-week program, which you can take as long as you want to finish. There's no focus on how far you get through it, but there are weekly personalized office hours, assessments, and pair programming with a mentor who can help you through if you're struggling. That course ends with a mock interview for Codesmith, to prepare you for the real thing.
There will be scholarships available for these programs. And if you are accepted into Codesmith, that tuition comes out of the full bootcamp tuition.
What's your advice for students who are considering this CSX program?
Set yourself up with goals and the achievable tasks to get to those goals. Make a plan and commit a certain number of hours per week, making sure that your schedule allows for that. Pair programming is important, and using to those office hours is super important too.
It's easy to stop when you’re learning online, so remember that there is a real community to take part in. Ask questions on Slack, meet other students on Slack, come to in-person events, or attend a live stream. Set yourself up with the expectation that it's not going to be easy. The CSX program is a really great path with a lot of support.
My best advice: be ready to hit blocks and then be ready to solve them.
What will your salary be after coding bootcamp? Coding bootcamps are judged almost entirely by their ability to find students high-paying jobs as software developers. Some schools release data about alumni jobs, others offer money-back job guarantees or deferred tuition, but how much are students earning when they graduate and how does their earning potential change as they gain experience? Every year, Course Report surveys real coding bootcamp graduates to better understand who is graduating from coding bootcamps and how successful they are in the workforce. In our second post of this series, we explore the lucrative data about salaries after a coding bootcamp.Continue Reading →
Tell us about your career and education background. How did your path lead you to Codesmith?
My college degree is actually in math and physics because at the time I thought I wanted to go into research or a PhD program in either math or physics. I wasn't totally convinced, so I decided to take time off from being in school to evaluate that pathway.
While I was taking that time off, I started substitute teaching just to pay the bills and ended up really liking teaching. I ended up teaching high school physics for about six years. Teach for America brought me to Los Angeles, where I taught for four years at a public school.
How did you become interested in programming?
The last school I taught at wanted to pilot a computer science course and I was the only person at the school who had any inkling of experience with programming, so they asked me to teach it. I had never taken a computer science class, but in my physics degree, we learned a little bit of programming for number crunching, large physics calculations, and simulations. I remembered liking that work, so the idea of teaching that computer science course was exciting. In the process of lesson-planning, I found myself wanting to spend my free time diving more deeply into it.
That experience is what really got me interested in programming and making the career switch into being a software developer.
What made you take the next step from teaching computer science at a school to actually changing careers and becoming a software developer?
My background is in technical fields – math and physics – and I found myself missing doing technical work myself. Spending time learning about computer science in order to be able to teach that course gave me the itch to do more technical work myself. That's what initially got me thinking about making a full-time career in software development.
Why was a coding bootcamp the best way to achieve that goal?
When I first started thinking about transitioning into software development as a career, I wasn't necessarily going to go down the coding bootcamp route. I started to consider coding bootcamps because even though I was a classroom teacher myself, I actually found it really difficult to be a student in the traditional classroom. I knew that if I wanted to go into software development, it would be really helpful to have some coaching or mentorship as I learned.
I wanted a place to learn with other people who were interested in programming as well, but I also wanted the transition to be faster than going through a traditional, multi-year master's degree. I knew that even if a coding bootcamp was difficult in the moment, I would be able to get a lot out of it very quickly and be able to start my career as a software engineer in a really good place. To be perfectly frank, I guess I was a little bit impatient!
How did you find Codesmith?
Having been a teacher in the classroom myself, I was really impressed with how hard Codesmith worked to build community, both with the students who are currently studying there and with the beginners who were coming to that free workshop every week.
Did you research other coding bootcamps? What stood out about Codesmith?
I did look at a few other coding bootcamps, but to me, community building is really Codesmith’s secret sauce. They work hard to create the kind of environment where everyone wants to learn at a really high level, wants to push themselves to the limit, and is 100% there to support every other person who's going through the process. It really allows you to push yourself and learn as much as you can without fear that you might fall behind – you've got 20 other people who are there with you to support you along that journey.
Was it a competitive application and interview process to get into Codesmith?
As a former teacher, what did you think of the Codesmith teaching style? Did it work with your learning style?
There are so many things that Codesmith does right, pedagogically speaking. Most impressively, their entire focus is where it needs to be: on the students’ learning. Students work on projects that are intended to help them learn a certain topic, and these projects are large in scope and open-ended; they're typically too large to be completed within the allotted time. The ultimate example of this is the Production project, where students spend the last six weeks of the program working on large, cutting-edge software project of their choice. My team and I decided to create a library for testing WebRTC applications, and as far as we know, we were the first people in the world to do so.
Since the projects are so large and open-ended, the point is that students dig into it and work as hard as they can. It’s not about finishing the project because, in the real world, you're never finished. Instead, it’s about taking away an enduring lesson. At Codesmith, learning is the most important part of the process. Instead of telling you how to solve a tough problem, the instructors gently nudge you in the right direction. In the moment, that can be frustrating, but you're really learning the most when you struggle. It's by fighting through confusion and overcoming barriers that we become stronger as software engineers. That's really what engineers do in their day-to-day work.
This style of learning was definitely cultivated at Codesmith and it's something that they emphasize and articulate as much as possible. Going through the program helped me to articulate those principles to myself more clearly. Working in education for the past several years, I had some frustrations with aspects of the traditional educational system because I felt it was too task-oriented and focused on the solution instead of the learning itself.
How did Codesmith prepare you for the job hunt?
The job search mostly happens within the last few weeks of Codesmith, and then during the next couple of months after you graduate. Codesmith does mock interviews, whiteboarding sessions, resume writing workshops, coached us on negotiating salaries, and exercises to build our confidence as we go off into the job market and start applying for jobs. There’s also a Hiring Day where they invite companies from the Los Angeles area to do interview speed dating with the graduating class. It's not uncommon for many students to get called back for onsite interviews due to Hiring Day. After graduation day, once we’re in the actual job search, Codesmith did regular check-ins to see how we’re doing on the search.
Codesmith was always very open and receptive. If I wanted to talk one-on-one to the Codesmith staff, they were very open to that as well.
How did your first technical interviews go for you?
I thought doing technical interviews was fun. It was a little nerve-racking at the time, but I always find that once I'm actually in the middle of the interview, talking about a programming problem or some technology or something about the company, that the fear goes away and I just start enjoying the conversation.
One of the things that was interesting about interviewing with several companies in a short timeframe was getting to talk to various people working in different environments. It was good to hear about the company cultures, and really get a sense for the type of environment I wanted to work in since I was so new to the tech world.
What have you been up to since graduating? Tell us about getting your first job!
I found the Codesmith alumni community to be really helpful and supportive in the job search. Now that Codesmith has been around for about 2 years, there’s a pretty significant alumni network. We have a very active alumni Slack channel and people are pretty frequently posting jobs on that saying, "Hey, my company is looking to hire a full stack engineer. Private message me if you're interested." That’s how I ended up getting my first job at MedCircle. I went for the interview and I really enjoyed the company and the team.
MedCircle is an online health education company in LA. It's a very small startup company – less than 10 people on the whole staff.
I worked at MedCircle for about 10 months and got to build the team workflows from the ground up, which was pretty cool. About two weeks ago, I started a new job at Google in San Francisco.
Congrats! What are you now working on at Google?
My official title at Google is Web Solutions Engineer. I'm primarily working on internal software tools that the sales and marketing organization use to do their jobs better. It's pretty exciting because, at MedCircle I worked on a small, agile, flexible team. My team at Google is similarly small and flexible, but it's within the context of the Google organization, so I have access to all of these resources and incredible world-class software engineering.
How did you make the move from MedCircle to Google? What was that process like growing into your next job?
I actually interviewed with Google back in December 2016, during my first job search after I graduated from Codesmith and before I was hired by MedCircle. Evidently, if you interview and they don't hire you but still like you, then Google keeps your name on their short list. In August, I got a message from a recruiter at Google saying that they had a Web Solutions Engineer position open up and asked me if I'd be interested in applying for it.
How do you feel you've grown as a developer? Where do you feel you are in your learning experience?
No matter where I am in my career, I always want to push to learn and grow more. One of the things that Codesmith does really well, more than just emphasizing learning one particular technology stack, is that they emphasize learning how to be confident technical problem solvers and engineers. Even straight out of Codesmith, I was pretty confident in my ability to solve difficult software problems, even if I wasn't necessarily familiar with all of the technologies being used.
Now, having been in the industry for a year, it's given me a lot more depth of knowledge in the kinds of tools, best practices, and higher level problem-solving techniques that it takes to really write high-quality software that is robust, that lasts, and that does its job well.
I’m also growing in different contexts. Google is such a large company; in order to accomplish anything, I have to learn a lot about the infrastructure of the company as a whole. It’s been pretty exciting to see how software engineering can really work at a massive scale.
What's been the biggest challenge in your journey to becoming a software developer?
What’s most challenging about software engineering is also what’s most exciting: there’s basically an infinitely deep pool of things to learn. In order to really be able to perform at the highest levels, you need to be willing to put in the time and effort to keep learning, whether you're on the job or not.
I've put a lot of hours and energy into trying to improve my skills even outside of work hours. But as I said, there's always interesting problems to work on, always new technologies to learn, and always new products to imagine. Because with software, anything that you can imagine you can create as long as you're willing to stretch your imagination and embrace the possibilities.
Would you advise other bootcampers to go into a small startup first like you did?
I think it was the right decision for me, but it depends a lot on the person and on the company. What’s more important than the size of the company is really understanding the company's culture during that interview process. For me, I like having a lot of flexibility in what I work on and being able to work on different projects, so I knew that working at a small company like MedCircle would give me that. Being forced out of necessity to wear different hats really made me into a more well-rounded engineer. I’m more confident when I have to tackle problems in a variety of different domains.
For your first job after a bootcamp, choose a company that will bring out the best in you and a place where you can continue to learn at the same rate that you were learning while at bootcamp. That can really vary a lot from company to company whether it's small or big, so feel out their company culture and choose based on that.
You have a background in Math and Physics – is it true that you need to be “good at math” in order to be a great software engineer?
I took Codesmith’s Machine Learning class after I graduated, and that topic was exciting for me because machine learning does involve a lot of math. My background in math gave me a good foundation to learn more in that area.
However, you definitely don't need to have a background in math in order to be good at software engineering. In order to be a strong software engineer, you need to be a strong problem solver. Being good at math is just one possible way to acquire those problem-solving skills. My background in math has definitely helped me, but I don't think it's the only way to get the skills needed for software engineering.
When you look back at the last two years, do you think you would have been able to get to this point by self-teaching or going back to a traditional school? What kind of role did Codesmith play in your journey?
I honestly doubt that I would’ve been able to make it to where I am today this quickly if I had gone down a different path. If I had done a master’s degree, I probably would’ve gone back to school in the evenings and continued teaching full-time, which would’ve drawn out the process and not allowed me to focus all of my attention on learning as much as I could. That would have made the career transition a lot more arduous.
When you teach yourself, it's easy to end up stuck in your own bad habits because you don't know best practices and how to get to the next level. Learning within a community of other people who are passionate about software engineering means that you can all help each other. You can push your thinking to the next level and get unstuck when you hit a roadblock in your learning. You always feel like the work that you're putting in is reaping benefits, because you can see the growth day by day and week by week. That rapid growth is really what allowed me to reach my goals so soon after deciding to make the transition into software engineering.
What advice do you have for our readers who are considering a coding bootcamp like Codesmith?
Your time at a coding bootcamp is very short, so it's important to really squeeze the most out of the experience that you possibly can. It's not enough to just go to class during the day and then go home. It's really important to get to know your classmates and help each other grow. It's rare that you're surrounded by so many other people who are this passionate about the same goals.
Codesmith works so hard to build community, not only between current students but also between professionals by hosting meetups for local software developers. If you can really take advantage of that community, then that's where you'll see the most incredible growth in yourself.
Everyone seems to be talking about Machine Learning. But what is Machine Learning, and do you really need a PhD in Math to master it? LA coding bootcamp Codesmith has recently added a machine learning unit to their core program, and will soon launch an entire Machine Learning Bootcamp. We asked Codesmith’s Director of Machine Learning, Weylin Wagnon, where to spot machine learning in everyday products, why knowledge of machine learning is useful for software developers, and what the job market is like for developers with machine learning skills.
- Machine learning is a subset of AI, where a computer uses data and previous experiences to predict outcomes
- Machine learning tasks include those which used to be done by humans such as fraud prediction and ad placement
- Any task that is currently tedious for humans but still requires some creative decision-making is a target for machine learning software.
- Codesmith is teaching machine learning with a code-first attitude, by introducing the concept to students as a new tool and a new library
- Software engineers who know how to interact with machine learning systems are future-proofing their skills
What’s your experience in machine learning?
I run a cryptocurrency mining farm, where we manage mining for our clients who want to invest in cryptocurrency. It’s very complicated to set up and do at scale, so we streamline the machine learning process.
What is machine learning?
In general, Machine Learning is equal parts math, statistics, computer science, and voodoo. Machine learning is very different from the traditional software engineering or programming paradigm. In computer science, you provide a set of rules and input data to make some kind of output. In machine learning, you switch that around. You input data and input the answer you want to see, and the machine figures out the rules required to get that answer. It is a little bit magical, it’s pretty challenging, but with a clear approach to understanding machine learning, it is possible to do extraordinary things with these tools.
How is machine learning different from artificial intelligence?
The standard general purpose computer is not intelligent. Artificial intelligence gives the machine some automated behavior that we consider “smart.” Machine learning is a subset of Artificial Intelligence and requires learning from previous data. As humans, we use our previous memories to influence our future behavior; machines can learn from previous data to do the same thing. Overall, AI doesn’t imply data alone, whereas machine learning is all about data.
Where do we see Machine Learning in the real world? Can you give us some examples?
Anything that is currently tedious to do for people but requires some kind of creative decision making is a target for machine learning software. Most of the cutting edge machine learning projects are coming from large companies that have huge data sets. For example:
- Google Photos and Apple Photos dynamically identifying faces in pictures and auto-tagging people.
- Shazam, which identifies songs, has been greatly enhanced through machine learning.
- Speech systems like Siri, Google Home, and Alexa, are all good examples of machine learning ability.
- Fraud reporting, which used to be done by humans perusing financial records, but is now accomplished with algorithms.
- Some core business uses have been around for a while – 10 years ago, machine learning was used to predict which advertisement a user would click on, and we still use advanced neural networks for the same task today.
How can machine learning be useful for a software developer?
Machine learning exists in an application ecosystem (like an API). So even if a developer doesn’t want to touch the whole backend of an application, they are still going to have to interact with some of these systems. Having at least an understanding of the concepts behind machine learning can be valuable in the long run when designing systems.
Any exposure to machine learning is a really good mark on your resume. Having interacted with such machine intelligence systems shows that you have a strong competency with current and future technologies.
Why has Codesmith decided to add Machine Learning to the curriculum?
Google I/O’s last conference (and every main stage) was fully focused on AI and machine learning at all times – it’s a significant trend.
You need to be able to work with large amounts of data, be a smart programmer, understand neural networks, and have machine learning skills if you want to build the next generation of tech products. And if you don’t, you’ll be left behind over the next 10 to 15 years. It’s hard to observe the future of jobs and not be scared of how machine learning is taking over; I think the best way to stem that tide is to get into the field yourself.
Tell us about the new machine learning unit at Codesmith and how you came up with the course.
We are now offering an entire unit within Codesmith’s core software engineering residency, plus a six-week stand-alone course for alumni and experienced coders. I just finished teaching the unit. It’s not a complete course, but it does give students all the tools they need to go forward in machine learning. We ran a beta-version of our six-week course for alumni, got a lot of feedback, and are iterating right now for our public course. It’s exciting to push software engineers on the right path. Machine learning is something that will be hard to avoid in the future so it’s really valuable to get into the space right now.
I spent a long time researching before writing the curriculum. I paired up with Kush Kumar, part of the USC Machine Learning Department, who is a stellar expert in the field. Combining his expertise with my teaching background, we forged the content together.
Can you really teach machine learning at a coding bootcamp? How do you fit such a vast topic into a short course?
We teach machine learning in the last quarter at Codesmith, so that students have the most experience and can gain the most from it. As we go through Codesmith, the pace of students’ comprehension accelerates, so they get used to picking up new information fast.
The core Codesmith unit is focused on teaching students about general machine learning ideas, providing a framework to think about machine learning, and defining terms that we’ll see a lot. We are focused on coding best practices first. Then, we’re fitting machine learning into the curriculum as a new tool and a new library, and not as a fundamentally alien concept.
We do a deep dive into re-engineering some machine learning algorithms so we can see it’s not just magic. But on this level, you don’t have to engineer everything yourself. We teach libraries like Pandas to enact a lot of complex behavior very quickly. The program is mainly project focused as we go through, and we also practice pair programming.
Students also learn some DevOps, neural networks, and Tensorflow. By the end of the unit, they’ll have covered the vast majority of the machine learning field and will be able to autonomously create projects.
What is the job demand like for machine learning skills?
In LA, job listings mentioning machine learning often offer salaries 10% to 30% higher than regular software engineering roles. The goal of our program is not to produce data scientists, data analysts, or data engineers – we’re aiming to graduate engineers who can build advanced programming products and meet the needs of a “machine learning software engineer” job listing. Companies are getting very competitive as the demand for machine learning engineers grows faster than the supply. The main source of machine learning talent comes from master’s degree or PhD programs, so it’s a challenge for companies to find enough engineers to rapidly prototype machine learning products. In addition to being in great demand, machine learning skills are a great accent to any software engineering role.
Is there anything you’ve had to leave out of the Codesmith machine learning curriculum?
We don’t cover neural network libraries in our Codesmith unit, but we can provide resources for students who are interested in learning more, and we highly encourage alumni to take the full machine learning course.
We always hear that you don’t have to be a math whiz to be a good programmer, but do you need math skills to do machine learning?
In the machine learning unit, we don’t focus a lot on math. People get the idea that machine learning is only about math because of Andrew Ng’s popular Machine Learning course from Stanford, which is all focused on the calculus derivation of different algorithms, and how to implement them. But that knowledge is not required to build machine learning projects – most of it is already wrapped up in libraries. So your math ability doesn’t impact your ability to implement machine learning systems.
However, at some point in your career, you may want to develop new machine learning processes, and then that math and algorithms research will help you. But in general, it’s not as big of a requirement as people think.
What’s an example of the sort of machine learning projects that students would work on at Codesmith?
At Codesmith, we mainly focus on portfolio projects. Having a significant portfolio of work is so important to getting hired in machine learning. Students work on projects which involve making graphs that convey information, getting insights from data, and then presenting the insights in a way that’s understandable for less technical people.
Who is teaching this new unit? How will you train your instructors to teach this new machine learning unit? Or will you hire new instructors?
So far I’ve been the sole instructor along with our advisory member Kushaan. I am hoping to continue contributing as long as I am able, plus we have some super talented engineers who have been studying machine learning on their own and have attended all of our machine learning courses. We like to take a multifaceted approach – we have really talented teachers, engineers, and people with math backgrounds, and it’s through all of us working together that we can make it work. It’s a community approach.
How often does the Codesmith team update or add new units to the curriculum like this?
We reevaluate the curriculum after every graduating class and talk about whether topics are still relevant, and whether we can improve. We add content often, like new lectures, or individual focuses, but rarely whole units. So this is exciting!
Can students in both LA and NYC campuses learn machine learning?
So far, we’ve only taught machine learning at the LA campus. Our first NYC cohort starts in two weeks, and we hope to also offer machine learning there eventually. Stay tuned for our separate machine learning course, which we are hoping to launch in the near future.
Are there resources or meetups you recommend for machine learning beginners?
The best machine learning resource for beginners is a YouTube channel called Welch Labs. He’s a fantastic teacher and makes the subject really dynamic. You can learn about the field and the core concepts behind it, without requiring advanced math.
There are also plenty of online courses and interactive online portals. I don’t particularly like those, but some people benefit from them as an introduction to concepts. Those online courses can make you feel like you’ve accomplished and learned a lot, but you have no autonomy, and having to define a task for yourself afterward can be really challenging. I think an interactive course where you build projects is the best option.
It’s that time again! A time to reflect on the year that is coming to an end, and a time to plan for what the New Year has in store. While it may be easy to beat yourself up about certain unmet goals, one thing is for sure: you made it through another year! And we bet you accomplished more than you think. Maybe you finished your first Codecademy class, made a 30-day Github commit streak, or maybe you even took a bootcamp prep course – so let’s cheers to that! But if learning to code is still at the top of your Resolutions List, then taking the plunge into a coding bootcamp may be the best way to officially cross it off. We’ve compiled a list of stellar schools offering full-time, part-time, and online courses with start dates at the top of the year. Five of these bootcamps even have scholarship money ready to dish out to aspiring coders like you.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the October 2016 Course Report monthly coding bootcamp news roundup! Each month, we look at all the happenings from the coding bootcamp world from new bootcamps to fundraising announcements, to interesting trends. This month we are also covering our Women In Tech Snapchat takeover! Other trends include new developments in the industry, new outcomes reports and why those are important, new investments in bootcamps, and of course, new coding schools and campuses.Continue Reading →
Will Sentance is co-founder and CEO at Codesmith, a full stack coding bootcamp in Los Angeles that launched in fall 2015. Before that, he worked as a software engineer, and started his own e-commerce platform. Will says learning to code changed his life, and he wanted to pass that experience and knowledge on to others. Will explains the Codesmith curriculum, what Codesmith looks for in students, and how to prepare for the interview. Also find out what sort of jobs Codesmith graduates are getting!
What were you doing before you decided to found Codesmith bootcamp?
I worked as a Software Engineer at Gem, which is now a Hiring Partner at Codesmith. Before that, I was CEO and cofounder of Ownly, a social e-commerce platform I started while studying at Harvard. Gem is doing some really transformative work in the Bitcoin and Blockchain space for developers– we were finalists at Techcrunch Disrupt. It's a model for Codesmith graduates– exceptional technical talent yet great communicators. I loved the team there.
Why did you want to start a Los Angeles coding bootcamp?
Coding changed my life and the lives of significant people around me. It gave us the ability to build the ideas we dreamt up. People learn to code for many reasons from aspiring doctors who want to change medical document processes to people who love solving puzzles. I love getting to see all of these backgrounds come together to support each other in the program.
Many coding bootcamps these days have been founded by graduates of other bootcamps. After attending Hack Reactor, what did you think was important to keep about the bootcamp model and what did you iterate on?
There are distinct differences. At the end of the Codesmith program, we have our hiring event where companies from across the US come on site to interview graduates. This is very distinctive and is part of why the graduate outcomes are so strong.
The community of Codesmith Los Angeles is also extraordinarily tight-knit, with cohorts of 15 (two running at the same time) selected from over 300 applications. It plays out in the average leaving time each night– most people leave the campus close to midnight, six days a week!
What is the admission process like?
We look for people who have great potential in problem-solving and communication (both technical and non-technical). Before the admissions interview, there's a basic coding challenge online and special harder challenges given out at many of the free classes each week. If you complete these harder challenges, you're guaranteed to get an interview.
Your first interview looks at your interests and commitment to supporting others. This is followed by a technical interview. There you will work through various coding challenges, and we work with you as you navigate through. It's like a mini session of Codesmith.
How are graduates performing in the real world?
The graduates are doing remarkably well. They are doing everything from developing an organic grocery marketplace at Thrive Market, to a life-changing charitable platform at Omaze, to supporting 20m+ football fans at the NFL. By the end of the year, over 200 Codesmith grads will be out building great things with code. Graduates receive offers averaging $103.5k, with 92% hired within in 4 months– mostly in LA and SF. Companies like Whisper, Hautelook and others have hired multiple grads– that's a wonderful sign of the impact the grads are having at each company.
What types of final projects have Codesmith students built?
Students build a portfolio of four projects while at Codesmith– the final being the 'Production Project'. Students have built applications for clients including the Los Angeles School District and the University of Michigan Hospital.
Some of the most impactful projects have been tools and libraries for developers like React Monocle and React-D3 library. These developer projects have trended on Github and Hacker News and are now being used by thousands of developers including Hiring Partners of Codesmith.
Why is it so important for students to actually launch their apps in the real world?
Launching a project gives students production experience– handling user issues, bugs and requiring students to work as professional developers as opposed to working on artificial 'bootcamp' projects. It really makes the graduates stand out– it's a big part of why 95% of graduates join companies as mid-level developers or above.
What is the current class makeup in terms of gender, race, background? Is it diverse?
Students come from a wide range of backgrounds. While many have STEM experience or even Computer Science degrees, there are also students who were creative writing majors or didn't attend college at all!
We have scholarships for students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in technology, and we work closely with Girl Develop it and Women Who Code on free classes and curriculum to help show people that they can aspire to Codesmith whatever their background. But we have to do more.
How do you attract a diverse applicant pool to Codesmith– is that important to you as a founder?
It is crucial. In the coming years, more and more leaders of firms will come from a software engineering background. We have an opportunity to give people from all backgrounds that path to leadership. In November, we are starting a new Women in Technology Speaker Series and new scholarships in partnership with leading technology firms– to further attract a diversity of applications.
How should new students approach Codesmith?
We have high expectations for applicants in their interviews, but we also have an extraordinarily supportive community which is ready to help you reach your potential and prepare for your application. Join us for any of the classes in person or online– whether or not you end up at Codesmith, you'll find your partners in crime to code with.
How does the CodeSmith experience prepare students for job interviews?
Companies expect a lot from Codesmith graduates. They're going to be offering six-figure salaries so they expect people who are capable of solving problems without too much supervision.
The program is designed to prepare graduates for exactly these demands. To do this, the curriculum pushes you to perform at a level that impresses seasoned engineers, both through professional engineering best practices, and a structure that is heavily project-based. This makes you ready for deep technical discussions and challenges at interviews
The second half of the program moves into dedicated job-search preparation– through mock interviews, resume and online profile development– all culminating in Hiring Day.
Tell us about your employer partnerships.
We have a network of over 250 Hiring Partners who are required to have a strong engineering culture and who hire mid-level and above developers. A select group joins onsite for Hiring Day for multiple streamlined interviews. Nearly half of our graduates get offers from companies they met at Hiring Day.
Have you been through the regulatory process with the BPPE in California? Is it important that you become accredited?
The regulatory system is outdated for sure but efforts are being made to develop a new approach. In the meantime, we have begun the process of getting officially accredited by BPPE
What’s next for Codesmith? Are there plans to expand geographically, or to expand the curriculum?
I believe we've barely scratched the surface of the number of people we can bring the ability to code to, as well as the number of organizations and industries that can be transformed by engineers who can lead. I want our alumni to continue to develop as leaders in tech after they graduate. So we're working on new ways to give our alumni all the support they need to make that happen.
Many competitive coding bootcamps want you to have some programming knowledge in order to be accepted into their programs – whether they’re looking for past experience on your resume or require that you pass a coding challenge. For a beginner, it can be tough to get the experience that a selective bootcamp looks for in the application process. There are many ways to learn basic coding (including teaching yourself) but if you want to make sure you’re covering the right material and quickly, then a bootcamp prep program may be for you.Continue Reading →
How much do coding bootcamps cost? From students looking for free coding bootcamps to those wondering if an $18,000 bootcamp is worth it, we understand that cost is important to future bootcampers! While the average full-time programming bootcamp in the US costs $11,906, bootcamp tuition can range from $9,000 to $21,000, and some coding bootcamps have deferred tuition. So how do you decide what to budget for? Here, we break down the costs of coding bootcamps from around the USA.
Move over tinsel town and make some space in the greater Los Angeles area for some of the finest coding programs in the country. While LA once paled in comparison to San Francisco when it came to the sheer quantity of bootcamps, we've seen a surge in LA coding bootcamps this year. There is a wide choice of code schools with campuses in LA's "Silicon Beach" that all bring a unique take on web development training.Continue Reading →
Welcome to the June News Roundup, your monthly news digest full of the most interesting articles and announcements in the bootcamp space. Do you want something considered for the next News Roundup? Submit announcements of new courses, scholarships, or open jobs at your school!Continue Reading →